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Green things die at my hands, so consider me one of those purple thumbs who truly appreciates the green thumbs in my neighborhood.

This week, it seems everything is in bloom, from candy-cane-striped azaleas to ruby rhododendrons.  There are still wild violets in the forest, and a few late tulips in our neighborhood (in the Pacific Northwest, spring arrives later and later).

Portland lilacs (Kathleen Kenna photo)

The most fragrant of all are the lilacs.  In old Portland, the mauve lilacs are tall trees; in newer neighborhoods like ours, they’re thriving bushes.

They perfume each step I take in the neighborhood, so I thank every home gardener whose green thumb makes our community so lovely.

When I see a gardener at her flowers, I always make a point of thanking her, because my purple thumb knows it’s hard work.  Wherever we’ve lived, I’ve always thank gardeners (especially in Berkeley, where flowers run riot year-’round), because purple thumbs know we, the lazy/property-less/untrained, benefit from all that green thumb labor.  They’re an inspiration, these gardeners, and I’ve never met one who wasn’t appreciative when thanked for brightening our neighborhood.